What does it feel like?
Sciatica presents as a pain starting at the lower back or hip and can progress down the leg, in some cases all the way down to the feet. Sometimes there is associated numbness and/or pins and needles. This pain can feel like a deep ache that won’t go away and can become worse in certain positions, typically sitting and movements bending forward.
Any symptoms such as numbness in the inner thigh or groin and/or change to bowel or bladder function are considered more serious and should be directed to medical attention.
What is it?
Sciatic pain comes about when there is pressure or tension on any of the nerves that run from the lower spine into the leg. Nerves in the lower body start at the spine (nerve roots) run down to a point around the buttock where they bunch together (sciatic nerve) then spread out around the lower limb. These nerves are responsible for sensation of pain, touch, temperature and movement. If a nerve is being put under pressure or irritated somewhere along this pathway it will result in pain and potentially disruption to the other signals (sensation and strength)
Why does this happen.
There are two main causes for sciatic pain. The first is when the nerve root is pressed on by a disc as it exits the spinal cord in the lower back. The second common cause is when the sciatic nerve bunch is pressured by the piriformis muscle around the hip/buttock area. A physio assessment will be able to determine which one of the above is the cause in each case.
Depending on where your sciatic pain originates, the cause and treatment can go from there.
Can it be fixed?
Yes, it can! Physio treatment for sciatic pain usually aims to address the positions or movements that may contribute to nerves being pressured, and exercise to help mobilise the nerve so it can glide smoothly through its pathway. Usually some improvement can be seen right away but symptoms may linger for some time. If treated early symptoms usually resolve much quicker and more invasive treatment won’t be required.